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Home  > Article

You're Hired! Evaluating Your Job Offer

By Kim R. Wells

It's time to carefully evaluate your job offer and we can help.

Remember, however, if you are uncomfortable with any of the conditions of the offer, do not commit to it.
You're hired! Magical words to the ears of every graduating student. With a job offer finally in hand, you may want to take a deep breath, celebrate the moment, and jig around the room, whatever you need to do to celebrate. You deserve a celebration!...But when you finish it, don't sail away into euphoria just yet. You still have some unfinished business. It's time for you to roll up your sleeves and enter into one of the most critical phases of your job search campaign; it's time to carefully evaluate and if necessary negotiate your job offer.

Manage the Moment

When a job offer is extended, it's amazing how quickly the moment can shift from celebration to gut-wrenching anxiety. Being a little uncomfortable is ok and quite frankly a very natural response to having to suddenly engage in a sensitive and potentially life-altering discussion. As they say, life sometimes comes down to a few defining moments that can change the course of our lives. But if you follow the steps outlined in this article and are prepared, you will be confident, capable, and ready to manage and fully optimize this moment.

Preparing to Succeed: Things you should know moving into this process

  • Know the projected salary of the position. By thoroughly researching industry websites such as, you will have current and accurate information on salary trends across industries and geographical locations. Remember to carefully compare the cost of living in specific geographical locations to accurately determine the real value of a job offer by an employer. A $50,000 salary has a very different value in Durham, N.C. than in New York City.
  • Consider the "hidden compensation" value of a job offer. Including the amount of employer contribution to health benefits, 401k plans, pension plans, tuition assistance. Also consider the long-term value of in-house executive training, child-care assistance, performance bonus incentives, relocation fees, signing bonuses, free gym facilities, and more.
  • Research the potential lifestyle value and impact of accepting an offer with a particular employer. Assess factors such as diversity in the organization, commuting time, parking arrangements, required travel, time away from family or loved ones, typical work hours, community service opportunities, populations you will interact with, and more.
  • Consider whether working for this organization will increase your long-term value in the job market. Let's face it, working for some organizations regardless of salary is like money in the bank because of the prestige, training, professional experiences, and networking you will have earned the right to professionally associate with and market to future employers and sometimes for substantially higher salaries.
  • Remember the more you ask for, the higher the expectations. In today's competitive job market, employers have very high expectations for employees who are hired at the higher end of their position's salary scale. Sometimes entering into an organization with a lower salary can actually better position you in the long run for a more appropriate development cycle or career path, training, mentoring, and more realistic performance expectations. Unfortunately if your "excellent" negotiation skills land you additional compensation, they may also land you a one-way ticket to the door if you are unable to perform to the higher levels that will be expected.
  • Consider whether the organization has a reputation for career advancement of its  professionals. The question here is "Do high performers in the organization get rewarded  for their efforts." The answer to this question is always, officially on the record, "yes" by the employer. The "real story" is however better identified through current employees that you can usually access through the career-services office, alumni networks and the alumni-affairs office, faculty, friends, and family with contacts in the organization.
  • Take time to outline the most important components of your ideal job offer for the position you have interviewed for. Mentally note, but do not share with the employer, areas that you consider more negotiable than others.
  • Schedule a meeting with a career-services professional to review specific hiring practices and compensation packages offered by employers you have interviewed with.
  • Consider rehearsing your job offer discussion. This may sound silly to some, but even some of the most competent and effective communicators practice discussing key messages and issues that may arise in important meetings. If interested see a career-services professional to role play the job offer discussion and offer feedback on your performance.

Key Elements of an Effective Evaluation Discussion

  • Remember that at this phase of the process it is business, not personal. Hard assessments of your "professional value," value attributed to your education, experiences, and area of study can seem a bit cold and insensitive, especially when you are experiencing this process for the fist time. Welcome to the world of work! Over time you will get used to the many assessments, performance evaluations, and "measurable standards" attributed to your talents, experiences, and capabilities.
  • Try your best to trust the system, in spite of the many documented disparities, indiscretions, and other negatives that are reported. At this point in your career you first need to get into the game before you can be an agent of change.
  • Set the tone of the actual conversation by enthusiastically thanking the employer for the offer. Discuss some of the high points of previous interactions with the organization and positive lessons you have learned about the employer in this process. If talking on the telephone consider standing up for the feeling of additional confidence and control.
  • Listen carefully to the employer and the details that he or she presents concerning the offer. Do not interrupt the employer's initial presentation of the offer to give him or her the opportunity to fully discuss the offer and all of the key components of the compensation package. If possible try to write these specifications down for questions and discussion when the employer is finished.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for additional time if necessary to provide you with the opportunity to carefully review the offer. Important decisions of this nature sometime require additional time for you to review all of the factors involved. Do not comment on concerns at this point if you are not prepared to do so. It is recommended that if there are elements of the offer you have some concerns about that you do some additional research, contact a career services representative or other trusted advisor to share your concerns and to discuss your options.
  • Rehash elements of the job offer with the employer in an attempt to clarify your understanding of the offer. This will give the employer the opportunity to correct or adjust any elements that need to be further clarified.
  • Ask questions about gaps in the job offer versus what you anticipated. Remember to back up your questions with your research from credible industry sources, "not because my roommate told me." The key here is to maintain a very calm demeanor and open mind, and to frame your question(s) in a manner that show your sincere interest to work with the employer to achieve a "win-win" agreement.
  • Remember, unrealistic and unsubstantiated demands in this process will hurt your credibility and could cost you in ultimately landing the best possible job offer.

What to do if you have two or more job offers?

If you have two or more job offers, congratulations. You're good! But don't believe your own press just yet. The key to working through multiple job offers is honesty, professionalism, and being true to your own personal and professional interest.

This is not the time to become arrogant and try to play one employer against another. You will always lose that battle if you do that, because even if hired by one organization there will always be the potential for your employer to have lingering resentment of how you handled a job offer, not to mention the lost credibility that will follow you into your new employer because of your behavior.

Share with each of the employers that have made you job offers that you have received multiple offers and that you would like to take some additional time to review the offers and make the best possible decision. If necessary give both employers a set time for you to give your decision regarding which offer you will accept. If one salary or item in one offer is more appealing than the other, let the employer with the less appealing offer know that you would be interested in their organization, but that the offer from the other organization is closer to your expectations in that particular area. Remain professional and pleasant with both employers involved in this process. Once you have finally decided which offer to accept, you must honor your commitment to that employer. To do otherwise may reflect poorly on not only your credibility, but also that of your college or university, hurting other students who would otherwise benefit from the continued recruitment of the organization at the university.

Final Steps

If after you have completed the process of openly and honestly discussing the terms and conditions of the job offer and if you and the employer are both comfortable with the agreement, formally close the deal.

Remember, however, if you are uncomfortable with any of the conditions of the offer, do not commit to it. Ask for time to review it in more detail, and if necessary to discuss your concerns with a career-services professional and then openly share your concerns with the employer. If you are unable to come to terms that meet your expectations do not accept the offer, and thank the employer for their interest.

Final points in closing the deal:

  • Have the employer send you a written copy of the offer for your official records.
  • Verify the date and times you are to report to work.
  • Confirm any need for you to attend any orientation before starting.
  • Ask the employer whether there is information about the organization or clients that they recommend you to review before your arrival.
  • Map out your directions to work. Reporting late on the first day looks very unprofessional!
  • Notify your career-services office and your academic department that you have accepted the position for their records so that they may appropriately congratulate you.

Now you may sail away into euphoria!  Well at least until you have to show up for your new job!

Source: Black Collegian

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